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Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

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9781613734995: Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail
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2014 National Outdoor Book Award Winner in History / Biography

Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, sixty-seven-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. By September 1955 she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, sang “America, the Beautiful,” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

Driven by a painful marriage, Grandma Gatewood not only hiked the trail alone, she was the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times. At age seventy-one, she hiked the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail. Gatewood became a hiking celebrity, and appeared on TV with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter. The public attention she brought to the trail was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction.

Author Ben Montgomery interviewed surviving family members and hikers Gatewood met along the trail, unearthed historic newspaper and magazine articles, and was given full access to Gatewood’s own diaries, trail journals, and correspondence. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk shines a fresh light on one of America’s most celebrated hikers. 

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Ben Montgomery is a staff writer at the Tampa Bay Times and cofounder of the Auburn Chautauqua, a Southern writers’ collective. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 and has won many other national writing awards. He lives in Florida.

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In 1955, at 67, Gatewood left her small Ohio town and her 11 children and 23 grandchildren and set off to trek the Appalachian Trail. She’d long been fascinated by the 2,050-mile trail and was particularly lured by the fact that no woman had ever hiked it alone. Knowing her family wouldn’t approve, she didn’t tell them when she set out with a little 17-pound sack of supplies and no tent or sleeping bag. Journalist Montgomery draws on interviews with Gatewood’s surviving family members and hikers she met on her five-month journey as well as news accounts and Gatewood’s diaries to offer a portrait of a determined woman, whose trek inspired other hikers and brought attention to the neglect of the Appalachian Trail. She became a hiking celebrity, appearing on television with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter. Montgomery intertwines details of Gatewood’s hike with recollections from her early life and difficult marriage. Maps of the trail and photos from Gatewood’s early life enhance this inspiring story. --Vanessa Bush

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Book Description Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, 67-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, having survived a rattlesnake strike, two hurricanes, and a run-in with Harlem gangsters, she stood atop Maine's Mt. Katahdin. Driven by a painful marriage to an oppressive husband, Gatewood became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person--man or woman--to walk it twice and three times. Gatewood became a hiking celebrity, and appeared on TV and on the pages of Sports Illustrated. The public attention she brought to the footpath, and her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches, led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction. The story of Grandma Gatewood will inspire readers of all ages by illustrating the full power of human spirit and determination. Even those who know of Gatewood don't know the full story--a story of triumph from pain, rebellion from brutality, hope from suffering. Seller Inventory # ABZ9781613734995

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